This is a Q&A for the upcoming MSU Vs. Nebraska game. We interviewed Bill Grip of the Nebraska blog called Corn Nation.
1.) This season hasn’t gone as planned for the Huskers OR the Spartans. Why is that?
At 6-2, you’d think we wouldn’t have much to complain about. However, there is still a feeling of uneasiness amongst Husker nation despite currently being in control of the legends division. This season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride with highs and lows. But the lows have been really low. Our star running back Rex Burkhead got hurt in the first quarter of the season opener and has come back a few times only to get re-injured. The loss at UCLA came because of a complete team meltdown and very questionable play calling. The loss at Ohio State was an absolute embarrassment, and the most points Bo Pelini has ever given up as Nebraska’s head coach. We were lucky to come away from Northwestern with a win after turning the ball over 3 times, and we beat a Denard-less Michigan team…big deal. So we’re 6-2 with a chance to go the Rose Bowl…or finish somewhere around 7-5. At this point, neither would surprise me.
2.) What player on MSU worries you the most?
Defensively I don’t know if I can pick a specific player. The entire unit is legit, and easily the best the Huskers have faced all season. Nebraska’s offense has been statistically good, but very inconsistent up front. Taylor Martinez is no Joe Montana, but even Joe Montana wouldn’t be effective with 4 lineman in his face the second he gets the ball.
On offense, Andrew Maxwell. Most Husker fans have looked at his stats and assumed that he is going to get rocked on Saturday by a defense that plays very well against pro style QB’s. However, rumor has it that he CAN run the ball if given the chance, and that MSU’s receivers are more of a problem than Maxwell’s accuracy. If MSU’s receivers play well, and Maxwell gets some key scrambles…Michigan State’s offense could have a surprisingly good game.
3.) What under-the-radar player on Nebraska should MSU be worried about?
Sophomore WR/KR Jamal Turner. His stat-line isn’t very impressive yet this year, but Husker fans everywhere can tell you that he is a big play waiting to happen. He doesn’t have a college touchdown yet, which is mind boggling, because the kid has speed and moves that make you hold your breath everytime he touches the ball. The main reason he hasn’t scored yet is probably because he spends too much time running from sideline to sideline to make guys miss than running toward the endzone. But his athleticism is undeniable, and he has slowly been improving as a receiver (he was a QB coming out of high school). MSU is a talented defense that doesn’t give up big plays, but they will be focused on proven guys like Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, and Kyler Reed. The door will be open the door for Turner to be a game-changer on Saturday.
4.) What are the keys to the game for both the Spartans and Nebraska?
For Nebraska: Don’t fall behind. This isn’t the Northwestern defense, you’re not coming back if you’re down by more than 10 in the 4th quarter. Play smart and avoid self-inflicted wounds. See if you can keep Michigan State’s defense off balance with fast tempo offense. On defense, stuff Bell and blitz Maxwell early and often on passing downs.
For Michigan State: Don’t try to run a predictable pro-style attack. That’s where Pelini’s defenses thrive. Michigan State’s offense hasn’t been very good this year, so mix it up…Pelini usually doesn’t adjust well when teams change from their normal scheme. See if Maxwell can run the ball. On defense, just keep doing what you’re doing. Play sound and capitalize on Nebraska’s mistakes when (not if) they make them.
5.) Give us your best score prediction.
Nebraska is 1-2 on the road this year, with the only win coming against a very suspect defense (Northwestern) in a stadium that was completely overrun by Husker fans. Chances are good that there will be plenty of red in East Lansing on Saturday as well, but I doubt it’s as big of a factor as it was in Evanston. That said, I think Nebraska CAN get it done on Saturday…but I don’t think they will. A legends division title is ours to lose, which makes this a perfect time for a meltdown. Meanwhile, Michigan State is still fighting hard and knows that a loss on Saturday essentially ends any hope of a Big 10 title. In theory, Nebraska should be able to move the ball, while limiting Michigan State’s offense. But I feel like Dantonio will throw in some wrinkles that will catch the Huskers off guard. Throw in a nice helping of our usual turnovers and mistakes, and it might too much for the Huskers to overcome on the road.
Nebraska 17, Michigan State 24